Conlanging is about taking what you have and giving it a nice twist to make it something new - we are talking about a language here! That's right, you take a language that you already know and change things around to make something completely new out of it. You end up with a brand new language, something that only you or the people you share it with, understand. There is no hard and fast rule about Conlanging and that is probably the reason why it is so popular as a hobby amongst people of all ages.
As children, many of us have taken a language and changed bits around to make it something that we could understand. Even then, we were indulging ourselves in this hobby without really knowing it. As we grow older, we tend to be involved lesser in this art-form but that isn't always due to the lack of trying. Conlanging is often considered as something that children do, make up languages. That is until someone like J. R. R. Tolkien takes the written word and blows the world away with his language for the Elves.
Why Take Up Conlanging?
For children, Conlanging has been a special way of creating groups of friends or communicating with each other without having others find out what they are talking about. The most common reason for children to come up with their own languages is to talk to their siblings without their parents finding out. The important thing here is to not confuse the creation of code words as Conlanging. When we are talking about Conlanging, we are talking about a proper language here, not just some words that mean something else.
That means there is a proper grammatical structure, a proper phonology and a vocabulary to support the language. As kids, we probably never realized it but that's what we were doing. We were covering every single aspect and including everything we did, within that language. That gave us everything we needed to make it work and there came Conlanging, into our lives, completely naturally.
As adults, people who indulge in Conlanging are either doing it to support their work or simply doing it because they enjoy the creative process involved with creating your own language. The whole idea of sitting and covering for every single aspect to communicate with someone has to be planned out extremely well and thought out to the final degree. You cannot just sit and decide that you want to start a language and bang! There is a process that people who started a language or a Conlang, have been known to use. Understand that process and your job will be much simpler when you set off.
The Conlanging Process
The first thing you need to do is pick a model to base your language around. The model is just an existing language that you use and understand quite well. If you don't understand all the basic elements within your regular language, creating a Conlang might be a bit difficult for you. Once you have that aspect covered, you can start thinking along the lines of creating either a logical Conlang (Loglang) or a natural language. The difference between the two is that in the former, you are in danger of creating something that is so hard and fast, in terms of the application of rules, you end up making it too difficult for someone else to learn.
The next thing you need to do is focus on phonology or the sounds. Now, you can always add symbols to your characters or alphabets and create something different. However, just putting something there without understanding phonetics, or the study of sound, and phonology, or how sounds are used in language, it would be hard to associate something solid to your language.
Then comes the bit about inventing consonants and vowels, or the beginning of the creation of the basic grammatical structure! Understanding how these elements are created in the language you know and understand well, is a great way to start off in creating your own style. Stress is another grammatical rule that needs to be covered - we are talking about stress on particular alphabets or sounds. Languages like English have an irrational stress pattern that is not based on any rules. Rules make it simpler to use but also make it harder to learn, so it's a trade-off that you need to consider. Then there's the tone and pitch that you need to consider before moving onto the writing system.
The concept of creating Conlangs or Auxiliary languages (Auxlangs) or even artistic languages comes with a lot of time and patience dedicated to the job. You can always start off with a language construction kit and many of them are available over the Internet or even in your local library. Once you done your language planning and creation, you can always bring your family and friends into it with some interesting language games and help them learn the language that you've taken the time to create.
Learning a new language is all about pushing your mind to exert itself a bit more and is a great way to introduce a sense of creativity into your life. Your mind needs stimulation to grow and learning a language is one of the best ways to do that. Create a Conlang or get into Conlanging and you will push yourself into a wonderful new arena.